U.S. Rep. McGovern Renews Call to Target Human Rights Abuses and Corruption on 5th Anniversary of Magnitsky Act

McGovern Slams President Trump’s Failure to Stand Up to Putin and Challenge Russia and Other Human Rights Violators

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and a leading voice for human rights in the U.S. Congress, commemorated the five-year anniversary of the signing into law of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-208). Congressman McGovern is the House author of the law, which established visa restrictions and froze property transactions for individuals complicit in the November 2009 murder in prison of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky or other grave human rights abuses.

Magnitsky had uncovered a $230 million theft by corrupt Russian officials and brought it to the attention of the authorities. Instead of pursuing the corrupt officials, the Russian state retaliated against Magnitsky by arresting and imprisoning him, where he died after months of torture and mistreatment.

“Today marks five years since the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was signed into law and the United States took a powerful step to crack down on Russian corruption and attacks on human rights,” Congressman McGovern said. “I am proud to have introduced the very first version of this bill in the House April 2011 and to have led the effort on final passage.

“In the last five years, 44 individuals have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for their involvement in Sergei’s murder and other human rights abuses. That means these corrupt and abusive figures have been outed publicly and internationally and can no longer benefit from traveling to the United States and accessing their assets here.

“Last December, the Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, a bill I also co-authored, that uses a similar model of visa and financial sanctions to crack down on corruption and human rights abuses around the world. Yet the Trump administration has still not released the first list of individuals sanctioned under that law.

“President Trump has repeatedly failed to stand up to Vladimir Putin despite the mountain of evidence which shows Russia interfered in our presidential election. And in all his meetings with world leaders, President Trump has not said one word about human rights. With a commander-in-chief who refuses to lead, there has never been a more important time for Congress to be strong in our defense of human rights and efforts to combat anti-democratic regimes around the world.

“Visa and financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. government are not a substitute for strengthening rule of law in countries where human rights abuses occur. They are not a substitute for investigating and prosecuting officials who attack their own people. But as we wait for accountability for those officials, we know they will not benefit from coming to our country and doing business here. This is the least we can do in memory of victims like Sergei, and to help prevent others from suffering a similar fate.”